Earlier this month Georgia was among several states to formally submit a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education allowing for exclusions of certain provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
According to Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE), since Georgia was one of the first states to submit a waiver request it would find out whether its request was granted in the next few months.
The request, submitted by State School Superintendent John Barge on Nov. 14, asks the state be allowed to implement a new Career and College Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) to take the place of some of the provisions of NCLB.
Currently under NCLB, end of the year results are based on AYP measurements that use standardized test results to determine how each public school and school system in the country is performing academically.
The results then determine how much federal and state funding a system receives based on the number of schools it has making AYP. The act also calls for all schools in the country to meet AYP by the year 2014.
However, the new index will use three specific areas to assess individual schools such as Achievement Score (based upon current year data); Progress Score (based upon current and prior year data); and Achievement Gap Closure Score (based upon gap closure at the state or school level). The school-wide scores in these three areas will be weighted to produce the school’s overall CCRPI score.
Since NCLB only measures English/language arts, reading and math, Barge said an unintended consequence of the measurement system is that students struggling in one content area maybe pulled from other content areas for remediation. He said in some cases students taking a double dose of content to prepare for tests miss out on some of the vital learning in other subject areas.
But, Barge said the CCRPI will focus on student achievement across the board and attendance, content mastery and next-level preparation. It also emphasizes college readiness and career development—through a number of indicators such as Advance Placement, ACT and SAT scores—which is not currently provided by data collected for AYP.
Recently at a panel discussion hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers, a non-profit, nationwide child advocacy organization, Barge told an anecdote about his 15-year-old daughter passing her multiple choice drivers’ test.
“She said to me, ‘I didn’t memorize the signs dad, I just took the test.’ She passed it but she wasn’t ready to drive,” Barge said.
Barge said through talking to post-secondary partners and business and industry leaders throughout the state, he found many thought students weren’t prepared for college or a career out of high school.
“We looked at developing a new system. It has been in development for about a year, a new accountability system for Georgia,” Barge said. “We have retained those aspects of NCLB that were essential to a quality accountability system.”
According to Cardoza, the feedback the GDOE has recieved from school systems, teachers/teacher organizations and community members has been extremely positive so far.
“We really feel like this index is going to appropriately measure the progress of our schools, and a large majority of stakeholders feel that way, too,” Cardoza said.